An Ohio Wesleyan University student is believed to have drowned in an Arkansas lake while kayaking with his father, according to an Instagram post from the University of Delaware, Ohio.
Charlie Morris, 20, has not been found since he disappeared on the afternoon of March 16 during a family spring break trip to Beaver Lake, Arkansas.
The sophomore from Kansas City, Missouri, went to the lake with his father, Chuck, 47, ahead of the storm that morning, according to a Kansas City Star article about the incident.
According to the article, Charlie and Chuck, the percussionist for the band Lotus, were at the lake while Charlie’s mother, Jennifer Thompson, and his sister, 12-year-old Amelia, went to town.
On the same day that the couple did not return as expected, Thompson and Amelia drove and searched for their family members before reporting their disappearance to the authorities.
Since then, many have joined the search for a couple.
Ohio Wesleyan holds vigil, says community ‘heartbroken’
The Ohio Wesleyan Company posted a photo of Charlie on its Instagram account Tuesday night, saying the university community was “heartbroken at the announcement that authorities have strong evidence” that the student and his father had drowned.
“He will be remembered for his love of his family and the outdoors, his talent as a cross country runner and track and field athlete, his service as a Bishop Scholar mentor to local elementary schools, his dedication to his classroom work, and his involvement in the OWU Chamber. Orchestra,” Ohio Wesleyan President Rock Jones said in a message to the campus. “Most of all in OWU, he will be remembered as a beloved friend.”
According to the Instagram page, on Monday evening the university staged a picket in memory of Charlie and Chuck.
‘This is a recovery’: What the authorities say about the search
Authorities from the Benton County Sheriff’s Office found kayaks and a jacket in the water, but no sign of Morris.
Lieutenant Shannon Jenkins of the sheriff’s office said the search was still ongoing Tuesday evening.
Jenkins said the couple is believed to have left in kayaks around 11 a.m. on March 16 and were due back around 2 p.m. Thompson contacted the sheriff’s office around 4 p.m. and a search began, Jenkins said.
Authorities used the sonar in the water, and the K9 in the water and on land, she said.
“We have a lot of resources and we are doing the best we can,” Jenkins said. “Tomorrow we are downsizing, but the teams will still be on the water. This is recovery.”
Jenkins said it was very windy Thursday with storms approaching with winds up to 35 mph.
Several law enforcement agencies assisted in the search. Neither Chuck nor Charlie were wearing life jackets, Thompson told the Star.
‘Unbearable’ conditions: family’s statement
A GoFundMe page has been created for the family at https://gofund.me/bd9a1acf.
The page includes a family statement that the two men were “comprehensively searched.”
“The family and search and rescue commanders agree on the fate and likely whereabouts of Chuck and Charlie,” the statement said. “The weather and other elements created the perfect storm on the lake, and it was impossible to survive in the lake.”
Recovery efforts are ongoing and the family said they were overwhelmed with support and love and would soon be celebrating Chuck and Charlie’s lives in gatherings.
“As a family, we are deeply saddened, but we are encouraged by all the love and respect that has been sent to us for Chuck and Charlie,” the statement said. “We love you all. Please continue to support the Lotus community, which was Chuck’s passion, and the Ohio Wesleyan community, which Charlie loved so much. Thank you for keeping them all in your hearts and prayers.”
Lotus statement on Chuck and Charlie Morris
Lotus, who define their genre as jam/electronic/house, tweeted about Chuck and Charlie on Tuesday.
“We were all hoping for a miracle, but for now the search for Chuck and Charlie has resumed,” the post reads.
The band, which lists its location as Philadelphia and recently released a new album, said they didn’t know how long the recovery would take and directed people to a GoFundMe page.
“While we mourn deeply, we plan to celebrate the lives of Chuck and Charlie, our memories with them, and what they meant to so many people.”